What’s in the shadows?….

When the whispers from within start calling SKINAMARINK “one of the scariest films ever made”, then horror fans will be intrigued. Comparisons to The Blair Witch Project only add to the excitement as you prepare to sit down to watch, a movie that only cost $15,000 to make and the word of mouth growing stronger on each passing day.

Kyle Edward Ball’s directorial debut is one of the boldest attempts within the genre for many of years. It won’t be for everyone, even for this horror veteran, the film tested my patience on multiple occasions and I do expect reviews to range from one to five stars, but whatever you think when watching, no one can deny its hypnotic beauty on show, a horror that if you let in, can easily suck you into its nightmarish world. You may have no idea what is going on, but why are you still watching long after the hour mark?

Its 1995 and there is something evil lurking in the shadows of each corner of the house for four year old Kevin (Lucas Paul) and his big sister Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) who awake one night to find themselves home alone what with their father suddenly missing. We never really get to see their full faces, with the oddity of each camera being focussed on something in the house and what we do see of children is their legs, much like in an old Tom & Jerry cartoon where we saw the cat and mouse but never the humans. Its an unsettling vibe as we feel like a young child ourselves among them, seeing the world as they do, a style that is unsettling through-out.

We do see their father fleeting when we hear him on the phone explaining that Kevin has just hurt himself and has a head injury to which Kaylee establishes the fact that her younger brother does sleep-walk. Its little hints like this that add such layers of material to what is going on that fans will no doubt be discussing it among themselves for years.

As the TV in the background plays cartoons on repeat, there is something odd happening around the house. Windows and doors are disappearing, the toilet has vanished and there is voice in the shadows, beckoning the young children. Much like in Paranormal Activity, its not what we see that makes our imagination soar as the dark, grainy footage lingers in our brain. What is that in the corner? Is that a face? Is that a body?

In one hand, you have to praise Ball’s courage for not giving us the answers we so desperately need but on the other, it does make the whole experience feel like a frustrating trip, where we need to have at least some clue on what is going on. Is Kevin in coma due to his head injury and we seeing his dream? Is that whispering voice in the dark a bogeyman or their twisted Dad? Did Mom who Kaylee does not want to talk about do a “bad thing” and this is their purgatory?

Our childhood fears are in full play, where that innocent toy looks creepy in the dark and that short walkway from your bedroom to your parent’s becomes a long journey when night falls and while I have to applaud this attempt at something vastly different to what we’ve seen before, Skinamarink with barely any jump scenes is no where near scary, unsettling yes, if you let it, but I am guessing while it will find the love out there, many of you will be reaching for the off button, long before THE END reaches the screen….

3 Hatchets out of 5